Michael Mulligan Recognized for Boarding School Leadership

The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) honored our former head of school with the 2018 Ruzicka Compass Premier Leadership Award.
Mulligan received the award at the 2018 TABS Annual Conference on November 30 in Washington DC. The award is presented to one individual each year to recognize extraordinary contributions to the excellence, advancement, and success of boarding schools.

Mulligan was recognized for work with boarding schools that spans more than four decades, including nine years at The Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts and 32 years at The Thacher School in Ojai, California. He served as Head of School at Thacher for 25 years, second in length of service only to the School’s founder, Sherman Day Thacher. Throughout his career, Mulligan also taught and coached young people, leading wilderness backcountry and horse packing trips, as well as high-sea sailing expeditions.

A former board chair at TABS, Mulligan led the original effort to conduct research on boarding schools through Arts and Science Consulting in order to give greater substance to boarding school marketing. He felt it was important to distance boarding schools from every other genre of education, so he worked with the board to help break away from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and establish TABS as an independent and dynamic organization. Mulligan has also been active in the Headmasters Association and served as a board member for the California Association of Independent Schools. Since retiring from 25 years as head of school at Thacher, he established Cross Creek Consulting, a firm formed to help independent schools become strong, vibrant, and in demand.

His successor at Thacher, Blossom Beatty Pidduck CdeP 1992, was present with Mulligan when he received the award. “This group of several hundred educators in the hotel ballroom were cheering, literally cheering, at the end of his talk because it was so real and true and inspiring,” said Blossom. “He said that this work is sacred work; it's impossible work; and it is beyond essential.”
“Steve Ruzicka was guided by a belief that anything is possible. A similarly keen vision, coupled with ingenuity and compassion, motivated so many of Michael Mulligan’s achievements within the boarding school community.” said TABS Board Chair Ben Williams. “Michael Mulligan has been a support and guide to all of our schools, advancing us collectively while simultaneously showing what thoughtful, community-minded, student-centric leadership looks like...The TABS Board is thrilled to recognize his work with the Ruzicka Compass Award.”

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